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Homelessness

  • People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without houses.

  • In most of the traditional cultures of the world, homelessness would be impossible; first because of large protective kin systems, and second because homes were easily constructed from materials at hand. In America today we consider homelessness as a lack of shelter, not as a breakdown of community.

    • Lynn Laitala,
    • "In the Aftermath of Empire," in The Finnish American Reporter ()
  • Can't spare the requisite / eye contact, attention, energy. / Swallowed whole by / the deities of / experience and capitalism, / we've nary a moment / to be present with one another.

  • I carry home within my self. / Mine is a nomadic tribe, / home as location is a concept / foreign and bizarre to me. / I carry home within my self.

  • For some people, there is no room in their landscape for the needy, the marginal and abandoned unless they are in a painting hanging on the wall of a museum or in a production of Les Misérables. There, the destitute and impoverished are appreciated as art. Their appearances are acceptable as long as they are not alive.

  • Don't look at the dying; / you'll only encourage them. / The homeless, the hungry, the hurting, / they're not really there / and it's not polite to stare. / ... / Pretty soon the cops'll clear them / all away / anyway, / and your eyes will be safe. / And when you're dying / (oh yes you will) / no one will look.

  • A cold wind rises where there's only so much / and anyone with a food stamp or a rag doll / must've stolen it, maybe from me. / We're clutching at everything to keep off that wind / but it doesn't work. Big wind blowing away — / who were they, when they had names?

  • Living on the street, / under the bushes close up to the church / outside where the ground is protected by frost / they shelter themselves, the ones who've lost. / The ones we've lost, but still our own, / our children, our sisters, our brother's child. / Is anyone you've loved and known / without a home? Is anyone without a home / someone you can love?

    • Mary Rudge,
    • "Anyone You've Lost," in Street Spirit ()
  • ... but for the homeless all ways wither / like cut flowers ...

    • Nelly Sachs,
    • "World, do not ask those snatched from death," O the Chimneys ()
  • The first thing you lose when you become homeless is your dignity.

  • Malls are insular fantasy worlds where the relatively well-off pursue the study and acquisition of superfluous goods as a form of entertainment, in a society in which millions are in desperate need of something to eat and a safe, warm place to sleep.

  • Poor people are allowed the same dreams as everyone else.

  • I, John Shepherd, vagrant, / Petition the park commissioners / For wider benches.

  • people in houses are sure that you want / to be out in the wind and the cold. / people in houses grow more and more certain / while we just grow tired and old ...

  • brother of mine are you out in the rain / do you need a hot meal or a hand / brother of mine you don't have to explain / some of us here understand ...